EDP Sciences
Free Access
Volume 468, Number 1, June II 2007
Page(s) 33 - 48
Section Cosmology (including clusters of galaxies)
DOI https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20077525
Published online 11 April 2007

A&A 468, 33-48 (2007)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20077525

The reversal of the star formation-density relation in the distant universe

D. Elbaz1, 2, E. Daddi1, 2, D. Le Borgne1, 2, M. Dickinson3, D. M. Alexander4, R.-R. Chary5, J.-L. Starck1, W. N. Brandt6, M. Kitzbichler7, E. MacDonald3, M. Nonino8, P. Popesso9, D. Stern10, and E. Vanzella8

1  CEA-Saclay, DSM/DAPNIA/Service d'Astrophysique, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France
    e-mail: delbaz@cea.fr
2  AIM-Unité Mixte de Recherche CEA-CNRS (#7158)-Université Paris VII, France
3  National Optical Astronomy Observatory, 950 North Cherry Street, Tucson, AZ 85719, USA
4  Department of Physics, Durham University, South Road, Durham, DH13LE, UK
5  Spitzer Science Center, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA
6  Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, The Pennsylvania State University, 525 Davey Lab, University Park, Pennsylvania, PA 16802, USA
7  Max-Planck Institute of Astrophysics, Karl-Schwarzschild Str. 1, PO Box 1317, 85748 Garching, Germany
8  INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Trieste, via G.B. Tiepolo 11, 40131 Trieste, Italy
9  European Southern Observatory, Karl Schwarzschild Strasse 2, Garching bei Muenchen 85748, Germany
10  Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91109, USA

(Received 22 March 2007 / Accepted 5 April 2007)

Aims.We study the relationship between the local environment of galaxies and their star formation rate (SFR) in the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey, GOODS, at $z\sim1$.
Methods.We use ultradeep imaging at 24 $\mu$m with the MIPS camera onboard ${\it Spitzer}$ to determine the contribution of obscured light to the SFR of galaxies over the redshift range $0.8\leq z \leq1.2$. Accurate galaxy densities are measured thanks to the large sample of ~1200 spectroscopic redshifts with high (~70%) spectroscopic completeness. Morphology and stellar masses are derived from deep HST-ACS imaging, supplemented by ground based imaging programs and photometry from the IRAC camera onboard ${\it Spitzer}$.
Results.We show that the star formation-density relation observed locally was reversed at $z\sim1$: the average SFR of an individual galaxy increased with local galaxy density when the universe was less than half its present age. Hierarchical galaxy formation models (simulated lightcones from the Millennium model) predicted such a reversal to occur only at earlier epochs (z>2) and at a lower level. We present a remarkable structure at $z\sim 1.016$, containing X-ray traced galaxy concentrations, which will eventually merge into a Virgo-like cluster. This structure illustrates how the individual SFR of galaxies increases with density and shows that it is the ~1-2 Mpc scale that affects most the star formation in galaxies at $z\sim1$. The SFR of $z\sim1$ galaxies is found to correlate with stellar mass suggesting that mass plays a role in the observed star formation-density trend. However the specific SFR (=SFR/$M_{\star}$) decreases with stellar mass while it increases with galaxy density, which implies that the environment does directly affect the star formation activity of galaxies. Major mergers do not appear to be the unique or even major cause for this effect since nearly half (46%) of the luminous infrared galaxies (LIRGs) at $z\sim1$ present the HST-ACS morphology of spirals, while only a third present a clear signature of major mergers. The remaining galaxies are divided into compact (9%) and irregular (14%) galaxies. Moreover, the specific SFR of major mergers is only marginally stronger than that of spirals.
Conclusions.These findings constrain the influence of the growth of large-scale structures on the star formation history of galaxies. Reproducing the SFR-density relation at $z\sim1$ is a new challenge for models, requiring a correct balance between mass assembly through mergers and in-situ star formation at early epochs.

Key words: cosmology: observations -- Galaxy: formation -- Galaxy: evolution -- galaxies: starburst -- infrared: galaxies -- cosmology: large-scale structure of Universe

© ESO 2007

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